Since the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) came to power, there has been constant chaos. A clear majority mandate to the united Communist forces (UM- L+Maoist) was projected as the bright future for Nepal.
Citizens were shown a future of development similar to the northern neighbor – China. A future where Nepal would be made "Samriddha" and Nepalis 'Sukhi'.
As the Parliament is dissolved for the second time amidst rising cases of COV- ID-19, it is worth questioning, what were the dreams of the majority who voted for the communist parties?It is equally relevant to reassess the lapses in the system established after years of struggle and question the flaws in the new constitution of 2015.
Needless to say, also assess the role of India and China and other powers in this Game of Thrones of communist rule versus democrats.
In the last few months, there is heated debate in Nepal over the democratic processes constantly challenged by the ruling power.
From the decisions of PM KP Sharma Oli to the directives of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, all seem to be made unilaterally without any due process. The opposition parties are at odds to cope up with the sudden shocks of decisions coming from the Jhola (bag) of Oli Baba without prior notice.
Be it the two ordinances (Political Parties Act and Constitutional Council), or the dissolution of the Parliament, or notice of 21 hours to form a new government, or announcement of election dates.
All have one thing in common, decision taken by the competent authorities without any innerparty discussion or intra-party consensus. Result is non-stop friction between the multitude of powers, struggling to bring back normalcy.
An alliance of the United Marxist-Leninist (UML), led by Oli, and Maoists represented by Prachanda was an effort to unite the communist forces in Nepal.
Their overarching inclination towards China was at the cost of distancing the West as well as India.
However, a unity made to seek favours is bound to fall in the trap of animosity between individual actors, as the search for money, power and fame dilutes the collective effort of serving the masses. So it was the case of the NCP, where Oli and Prachanda were at loggerheads over who would lead the party and who would be the PM.
As the pandemic hit Nepal, the people were left in the lurch with the communist rulers busy in their power game.
People were on the streets protesting, and the opposition saw an opportunity to attack the ruling establishment. Some voices even started to look back to the time of the monarchy.
Instead of seeking a common ground, the PM sought the alternative route of dissolving the Parliament to go for a snappoll, which he believed would bring him back to power.
The Supreme Court became a battle ground for the political parties to reinstate the Parliament, as the move was proven unconstitutional.
However, little were they aware of the SC decision to divide the NCP and the consequent call of PM Oli to seek the vote of confidence.
The blow to the political future of Nepal was the reappointment of Oli as the PM even though he lost the vote of confidence. The three-day time to choose an alternative was too little for the non-communist forces to unite or form an alliance with the Maoists and select a PM. It was also due to the collision of interests and clash of ideologies, which made a smooth return of Oli to power.
However, the issue of moral ground and legal provisions of the constitution came to limelight. Oli became an interim PM until he could prove his majority within the next 30 days of re-appointment, which was a challenging task with the Tarai-based Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) leaders united. The JSP was seen as a critical actor in the three- day period, but their internal faction offered a divided deal to all other parties, as their core issues were not the agenda of any offer of alliance.
Even before 30 days passed, Oli sought the President's directive to call on all the parties to form a new government by proving a majority within 21 hours.
Two leaders – PM Oli and former PM Sher Bahadur Deuba –claimed majority support, but the President rejected both, citing discrepancies and ordered the dissolution of the Parliament along with announcement of fresh elections.
Prakash Poudel, a writer and political analyst, calls it the 'collapse of the system' and 'sacrifice of the constitution'.
Now the floor is open for contestation over the clauses of the constitution, its reinterpretation and procedures in a democratic system. J. P Gupta, coordinator of the Tarai Madhes National Campaign, states that with a caretaker government it will be impossible to mobilise adequate foreign aid, while internal means and local medical technologies are insufficient.
The decisions and directives have left many shocked. Vijay Khadga, Central executive member of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), believes that Nepal is certain to go for elections and is a good opportunity to find a way out of the inaction and anarchy of communist rule. Yet, many are sceptical about the elections at this time.
Khadga adds, soon there will be rapid polarisation among the parties, and people's aspiration is to have a referendum or national consensus on the issues of 'Hindu Rastra' and federalism. The notion of 'Hindu Rastra' is a highly contentious issue in Nepal now, as Nepalis link it to the ruling party in India – the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which for some Nepalis is a reason behind the present chaos, according to Gupta.
Although one would argue that the democratic system has been sacrificed, it is too early to predict an end to communist rule in Nepal.
Yet, it is certain that pro-democratic external and internal forces will have a hard time to deal with a polarised and unstable Nepal.
Kochhar is Assistant Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University and China Fudan FDDI Ambassador in South Asia
An alliance of the United Marxist-Leninist (UML), led by Oli, and Maoists represented by Prachanda was an effort to unite the communist forces in Nepal. Their overarching inclination towards China was at the cost of distancing the West as well as India
A version of this article appears in the print on June 1, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.